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Code Crackers

Hey Joe, Where You Goin' With That Cheap-But-Drinkable Merlot in Yer Hand?

I have made many mentions of the Trader Joe's Markets, principally in connection with the phenomenon of "Two-Buck Chuck" and other inexpensive wines.  Today, via Jeff Jarvis (who, true to form, sees it as harbinger of a trend toward "individual blogs keeping a watchful eye on individual companies"), I learned of the existence of "Tracking Trader Joe's," a new weblog by Mike Kaltschnee devoted to -- wait for it -- tracking Trader Joe's.  Why?  Mike explains in his initial post:

I wanted to start another blog, and I was looking for a company that was growing in a competitive market, had a lot of passionate customers, and was doing something very interesting.  Trader Joe's is all of this and more.  It also helps that I shop there several nights a week.

He also reveals that I will soon have to stop mocking New Yorkers and their backward, Joe's-free ways: they will eventually have their very own TJ's store on Union Square, possibly by year's end.


UPDATE [1237 PDT]: Extra thanks are due to the Tracking Trader Joe's sidebar for including a link to, of which I had previously been unaware.   "winejoe" is Joe Coulombe, the "Joe" in Trader Joe's, who founded the company and ran it until 1989.   His site is devoted to posting his reports on his trips to wine-producing regions around the world over the past several years.   The current edition covers Northern Burgundy, where the wine is not cheap, but is often very very good.   He'll return to Australia in September, I see.

Answering the question "Who is winejoe?", Mr. Coulombe reveals the origins of the namesake markets' wine strategy -- and the secret to extracting the best from those low-priced wines:

During my years as Trader Joe, I tasted at least 100,000 wines.  Most of them were not terrific, but on the other hand most samples were submitted by vintners who were desperate for money.  That's how Trader Joe's got those low prices.  That's also how I learned that a lot of wines that are marginal can be very good--if served with the right food.


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